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Rise To Vote, Sir!

OK, I'm going to the well yet again over NOW -- but this time, only tangentially.

The issue of election fraud is a convoluted one. I'm going to simplify it a bit (probably too much) and bring one aspect of it down to the least complicated level I can.

To win an election, one must win more votes than one's opposition. All issues aside, it boils down to two principles: get people who support you to vote, discourage those who oppose you from voting. Nearly every electoral tactic can be reduced to those two principles.

Where it gets tricky is where to draw the line. What is "right" and what is "wrong?" What is ethical, and what is not?

I find it simpler to think of it in black and white terms: is it legal or not?

Sometimes it's simple. If the action you are taking is in and of itself illegal, then doing it for political gain doesn't sanctify it. If anything, it makes it worse.

A few examples: the phone jamming scandal around the 2002 New Hampshire Senate race. Some high-ranking Republicans hired a telemarketing company to make automated hang-up calls to the Democrats' phone bank on election day, preventing them from calling out to remind people to vote and offering them rides. Under any other circumstances, this would be harassment and the responsible parties would be in trouble with the law.

Since the crux of the matter here was a United States Senate seat, that did NOT excuse the act as a "political action." It made it worse. A couple of the responsible parties got sent to prison, and the state GOP had to pay a hefty fine.

(A brief aside: I thought the GOP got off easy. In the settlement, they ended up paying about one-sixteenth of the fine I thought was appropriate, and the convicted cretins got shorter sentences than I thought was fair. But the Democrats, as the aggrieved party, accepted the settlement, so my opinion really doesn't count for much.)

Another example: during the 2004 presidential election, a bunch of Kerry campaign staffers, some with ties to Democratic leaders in Milwaukee (not Detroit, as I said previously) found where the Republicans were keeping the vehicles they had rented for their own "get out the vote" plans. They slashed the tires on them, rendering them useless for the day. They ended up also spending time as guests of the government. Again, not nearly enough for me.

Voter intimidation is another gray area. Informing people of the penalty for casting fraudulent votes can be scary, but I don't have too much of a problem with that. Anyone who is involved enough in the electoral process to be registered to vote ought to be willing to stand up for themselves enough to secure that franchise, and that's one of the reaons for bipartisan poll watching: if one side gets too aggressive, they can observe and document it to later challenge the election.

Which, I suspect, is why Carlos Mantos of Philadelphia was so staunch about keeping duly authorized Republican poll watchers out of the polls in his district. And why these "election officials" did precisely the same thing in 2006.

Then there's the not-quite-so-flagrantly illegal moves. Spurious voter challenges, for one. Finding people who are unlikely to support you and challenging their right to vote, accusing them of committing some form of fraud. (Residency is the big one here.) Individually, these challenges are not wrong, but when conducted as a systemic campaign, they can be a wrongdoing in and of themselves.

And then there's ACORN. I've lost count of how many of their employees have been arrested for voter fraud -- collecting and submitting fraudulent voter registration cards.

This is a more subtle form of disenfranchisement, one that many people do not see -- either through ignorance or political bent.

"Sorry, Biff, you're not voting this year." That's fairly clear. But what ACORN's stooges are pulling is a bit more subtle:

"OK, Biff, you can vote. But Skip behind you? You know, the guy who disagrees with you on everything? He's gonna vote twice."

There's a phrase that sums it up: "a distinction without a difference." I've always preferred the somewhat more verbose version: "a difference that makes no difference is no difference." It's like trying to explain the difference between cyan and cerulean to someone like -- well, me. To me, they're both blue.

It's a principle I've found useful in other areas. For example, affirmative action. Most of those programs are set up to give "bonus" points to people based on their status. In the infamous college admission case, blacks were given extra points based solely on their race.

I thought it would be an interesting experiment to change the rules a little. Instead of giving blacks 25 points and making 100 points the threshold, why not penalize non-blacks 25 points and lower the threshold to 75? The results would be precisely the same -- the applicants would still line up in precisely the same order, but with 25 fewer points across the board. But that smacked too much of "punishment" or "discrimination," and we couldn't have that.

Then we have the tactics that are loathesome, despicable, contemptible, and unspeakably vile, but fall within the letter of the law. I refer, of course, to the Gore campaign's efforts to disqualify the absentee ballots of active-duty service members. They found legal loopholes that they could exploit to discard these votes that they believed would break heavily towards Bush. This was perfectly legal, but forever tainted Al Gore in my eyes as scum.

In the end, vote fraud is part of the dark side of both parties. The techniques differ, but the goal remains the same: power over principle, victory at any price, the sacrifice of integrity and the electoral process for "the greater good."

To argue which side does it more -- or uses the more despicable tactics -- is not only irrelevant, but ultimately unethical itself -- by seeking to say that "the other side is worse" is to give tacit endorsement to one's own side.

Vote fraud ought to be a truly non-partisan issue. Everyone has a stake in the elections, and we should all do all we can to root out and eliminate it as best we can. And those who want to turn it into a partisan issue are almost as dangerous to our Democratic Republic as those who commit the fraud.


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Comments (15)

Nicely done Jay. Anyone, an... (Below threshold)

Nicely done Jay. Anyone, anywhere, of any party who violates election laws should be given the maximum penalty possible, with no mercy. Anyone, anywhere, of any party who doesn't violate the letter of the law but intimidates or is unethical should be condemned by his or her own party. This transcends party politics because it violates one of our principal freedoms - one of the things that distinguishes us from so many other countries - the freedom to choose our representatives.

Not to mention it provides ... (Below threshold)

Not to mention it provides perceived justification for those who feel suppressed to take even further actions, legal or illegal, in response. Eventually there is no distinction between legal and illegal, it becomes a race of keeping your enemies out of a position of power over you, by whatever means possible. Then really bad things happen...

What we need is voter ID ca... (Below threshold)

What we need is voter ID cards.

In a perfect world, a thumb... (Below threshold)

In a perfect world, a thumbprint or an iris scan would be associated with each voter registration, thus, ONLY the registered voter could vote. No match, no dice, you can vote, but the vote is 'set aside' until proof can be offered that the voter is in fact the same person as the person who completed the voter registration.

Im sure it also wouldnt take long to run a crosscheck to make sure there are not any duplicates, like those that vote in both NY and FL.

I'd like to think we all want things to be fair, one man, one vote, blah blah blah. ACORN is a disgrace(but whats even more disgraceful is the lact of a response from ANYONE in Congress condemning what theyve done through the years). A method to make sure each person ONLY votes once is far for all

Here in Georgia, the idea t... (Below threshold)

Here in Georgia, the idea that showing photo ID to vote is considered disenfranchising to the oppressed - the poor, minorities, and the elderly.

You need photo ID to buy CIGARETTES here - or beer. Yet somehow, it's considered too difficult for certain groups to come up with? Give me a break! If voting's as important to you as buying beer, you'll have a photo ID of some sort when asked.

This was brough up in response to charges of voter fraud. Okay, we've come up with a solution that can be easily implemented, using ID that the voter most likely already has - and it's considered to be too high a barrier for some?

What's pathetic as far as I'm concerned is that the original charges of voter fraud were made by Democrats, but the solution was hit on by Republicans... and was almost immediately challenged by Democrats because it was supposedly too difficult to comply with.

And of course, the Democrats who griped about possible voter fraud don't have anything in the way of a solution. Electronic voting machines were supposed to eliminate irregularities like the crappy ballot in Florida (which was designed by the local Democratic Party, if memory serves) until suddenly they were 'hackable' and couldn't be trusted.

It makes me wonder sometimes if the Democrats truely want voter reform, or simply want the appearance of reform so we'll trust the system while leaving gaping holes they can stuff ballots through so the 'proper' candidate can win.

When I go into my bank (whe... (Below threshold)

When I go into my bank (where the tellers see me all of the time and know my face), I have to show an ID to cash a $10 check.

When I go in to vote, I just tell them my name, and that's good enough.

What's wrong with this picture?

The ONLY party TRULY intere... (Below threshold)

The ONLY party TRULY interested in cleaning up voter fraud is the party that wants ID cards.
However, one party wants it, and the other party fights it TOOTH & NAIL.

That's all you need to know. Period. End of discussion.

To argue which side does... (Below threshold)

To argue which side does it more -- or uses the more despicable tactics -- is not only irrelevant, but ultimately unethical itself -- by seeking to say that "the other side is worse" is to give tacit endorsement to one's own side.

To argue that both sides do it so my side shouldn't be singled out for its much worse behavior is quite convenient. Just as all stealing isn't the same, all voter fraud/suppression isn't the same. A systematic effort to cage the voters of your political opponents is much worse than some idiot in Philadelphia* acting on his own accord. If both actions are the same in your mind then please explain how stealing a candy bar is the same as stealing a Mercedes.

*You still haven't explained what this guy did and who he is.

It should be mentioned, the... (Below threshold)
C-C-G Author Profile Page:

It should be mentioned, the Iraqi government came up with a wonderful method of keeping people from voting more than once: the purple finger.

Combine that with having to show proof of identity, and voter fraud would all but vanish.

Will it happen? Probably about the same time lions become vegetarians.

Blue, let's cut to the chas... (Below threshold)

Blue, let's cut to the chase.

(because you insist on playing the "my party is less dirty than yours" game)

Would you favor a photo ID that also includes an iris scan or other form of bio-metics to vote thus insuring one vote per eligible citizen?

If not, why not?

Blue,Did you even fo... (Below threshold)

Did you even follow the link? You know, the one that explains who he is and describes what he did?
Didn't think so.
Maybe you can borrow CB's laptop while he's wiping down the tables before the brunch rush comes in.

Oh blah blah blah, I mean r... (Below threshold)

Oh blah blah blah, I mean really. The problem is not voter fraud, but the incompetent system setup in the first place.

It needs to be standardiszed, it needs to be mondernized. No, that does not mean computers, it means actually paying real money to have the things run efficiently and professionally. Not out of idiots garages, on private property by volunteers.

We also need to drastically reform the under representation of the majority of americans. We haven't rejigged the system since the 20's and it's overdue. We now have 100 million more people than them and the populous states are getting shafted. They should have more people in congress, more voice for their numbers. Don't like more politicians? Fine, then just take some away from the stagnant parasitic states with virtually no people. But like it or not, we need at least 100 more to fine tune the system and get back to roughly 1 rep per 250,000 people. Currently it's at 1 rep per 750,000 which is a disgrace for a nation that prides itself on "democracy" ( albeit one where the politicians pick the voters, not the other way around sadly. )

This would also affect the electoral college, and bring it much more into line to represent the will of the people, not just the antiquated number of votes based on populations of the states form the 1920's. It's not a populist vote, it's just more representative without the popular vote being needed.

Reagan, Since yo... (Below threshold)


Since you apparently don't know, those "parasitic states" quite regularly have representation taken away from them based on population shifts in larger states.

It's called redistricting for the House of Representatives.

Most of your rant was incomprehensible, but I found this one interesting:

It needs to be standardiszed, it needs to be mondernized. No, that does not mean computers, it means actually paying real money to have the things run efficiently and professionally. Not out of idiots garages, on private property by volunteers.

Can't you all just see it now?

The government cannot run the election itself.

Even now, government employees have regulations about their political involvement not crossing into their public duties so, if they chose to make this a "professionally run" election, then they would have to contract out for some company to do it

If you thought the Diebold issue was a controversy, can you imagine what would be said about any company who got the contract to run the presidential election? Someone would claim that the company was ineligible to do so because the second cousin of the night janitor who cleans the executive washroom went to school with Candidate B's brother.

"It needs to be standard... (Below threshold)
rrita m:

"It needs to be standardiszed, it needs to be mondernized. No, that does not mean computers, it means actually paying real money to have the things run efficiently and professionally. Not out of idiots garages, on private property by volunteers."

Oh there's people paying money for it, alright. I have a lot of respect for Abraham Lincoln, even with all of his flaws, because he was a visionary.

Here is a quote excerpt from an article titled, Thought Control by the Corporate Media I found to be quite the food for thought:

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country....corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

Your title is a palindrome.... (Below threshold)

Your title is a palindrome.






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